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Top 10 Pests: House Fly

Close up of house fly
House fly, Musca domestica

Photo © iStockphoto/Arlindo Silva

House Fly

Scientific Name:
Musca domestica
Diptera (ants, bees, wasps)
U.S. Distribution:
All states





This page has three tables, (1) Identification, (2) Look-alike Pests, and (3) Biology and Habits.


Match the Shape and Size Match the Color
House fly graphic showing shape
Argentine ant worker
  • Adult is 1/8 to 1/4 inch long (4-8 mm)
  • One pair of translucent wings
  • Four stripes on thorax
  • Elbowed wing vein
  • Larvae (maggots) are cylindrical, worm-like and grow to be 3/8 inch long (12 mm)
  • Body dull gray
  • Black stripes on top of thorax
  • Sides of abdomen pale
  • Eyes dark red-brown
  • Larvae (maggots) are yellowish-white, smooth and shiny
Illustration by J. MacGown, Mississippi State University Illustration by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada


Look-a-like Pests

Look-alike Pest Differences

Flesh flies (Sarcophagidae)

Only 3 dark stripes on thorax; tip of abdomen usually pink; sides of abdomen not pale
Cluster fly (Pollenia rudis)
No black stripes on top of thorax; has golden hairs on thorax


Biology and Habits

Match the Food and Site Match the Habits and Damage
dumpste overflowing with trash House fly eff, larva, pupa, adult
  • Both larva (maggot) and adult feed on all kinds of moist and decaying animal or plant material
  • Found in human and animal feces, in decaying fruits & vegetables, grass clippings, garbage cans, dumpsters, trash chutes, compost, sludge
  • Breeding site is usually within 100 yards of infested area, but flies commonly travel one mile from breeding site
  • Can develop from egg to adult fly in as little as 8 days
  • Regurgitates and defecates on resting surfaces
  • Serious pest in poultry houses, livestock barns, meat-packing operations, around kennels, food processing plants
  • Does not bite, but contaminates food and is mechanical vector of many diseases such as salmonella, typhoid fever, dysentery, and yaws
Photo © Pinto & Associates

Photo by Jim Kalisch, Department of Entomology,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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